About the Authors

Authors of Pregnancy Winnipeg

About Ilissa Kolly

My name is Ilissa and I wear many hats! First and foremost, I am a mother to two amazing children: ages 3.5 years and 6.5 years. When I was a child, I remember my fascination with babies and dreamt one day of becoming a mother. Although eagerly hoping that one day my dream of a mother would become a reality, I had the chance to pursue my interest of working in health care and families. I started by taking two years of nursing education through the Joint Baccalaureate Nursing Program with Red River College and the University of Manitoba, before choosing to focus on primarily working one-on-one with families. In 2011, I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Ecology (focus Family Social Sciences) from the University of Manitoba.

When I was pregnant with my first, I remember reading everything about pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and breastfeeding that I could get my hands on. My library quickly grew and I realized, this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life Рhelp other families through the process of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Through navigating birth options, and trying to figure out breastfeeding, and adjusting to life as a mother, I realized how much support is needed for new and growing families.

When my daughter was only a baby, I decided to continue my adventure and take my first doula training through CAPPA International. I started taking birth doula clients and learned about how diverse birth culture is here in Manitoba. After starting to attend births more regularly, my brain still yearned for more knowledge! After another birth doula training with Manitoba Association of Childbirth and Family Education, I decided to re-structure my business as a doula, and started Bean Family Wellness – a full service perinatal business supporting families in Manitoba through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. During this time, I took additional training in childbirth education, herbalism, and training in speciality areas like breastfeeding, LGBTQ* families, and infant loss. And even travelled to London, ON to the Birth and Beyond Conference where I had the opportunity to share an elevator and tour the morning breakfast bar with legendary Ina May Gaskin (anyone in the birth community will know just how much a privilege this is!). Just recently, I had the chance to learn even more with a room packed with other local Manitobans who are committed to improving pregnancy, birth and postpartum for local families at the Spinning Babies Training and Conference. These are just snippets of some of the amazing opportunities I’ve had to grow my knowledge and meet new people along the way.

In the past few years, besides working daily with families whether it be at a birth, teaching a prenatal class to first-time, second-time or third-time parents, or delivering a birth pool rental to an expectant family, I find the time to follow my passions and hopefully make a difference in other ways. In 2015, I launched The Art of Breastmilk Project. I also had the chance to write for and publish articles in a few internationally published magazines such as Midwifery Today, Pathways to Family Wellness, Holistic Parenting, and Natural Pregnancy Magazine. I also volunteer in my free time for an organization called The Tiny Footprints Project, which is a non-profit organization in North America that connects professional photographers with families who have a premature baby in the NICU.

I have been active in in the Birth Community in Winnipeg for the past 6.5 years. The experiences I’ve had thus far, are what I could have only imagined growing up and journeying through university and parenthood. I feel so fortunate to wake up every morning and do the work that I do. I am forever grateful for the families who have chosen me to be part of their experience of becoming and growing their family. And, I feel like I’m just getting started! A huge thank you to Emma to trusting in me to help grow her ‘labour of love’, Pregnancy Winnipeg for years to come!

 

About Emma Durand-Wood
My name is Emma and I’m a mum to three young children. Several years ago, my world did a complete 180. Pregnancy, birth, and caring for a new baby were utterly transforming for me. I know that sounds cliched, but it’s true — there’s really nothing that can prepare you for what it will be like.¬† For me, giving birth, having a lot of breastfeeding challenges, and caring for a colicky baby were extremely challenging, both physically and emotionally. During my second pregnancy and postpartum, things were a lot better. I had midwifery care and was much more proactive about taking care of my emotional needs during the pregnancy and after my baby arrived. Also, as a second-time mama, I had a lot more first-hand knowledge to draw from. With my third baby I was extremely fortunate to have midwifery care again and things were even better – even though we of course did have challenges, both expected and unexpected.

I’m a big proponent of reducing interventions and restoring normalcy to childbirth, and above all, want all women to be empowered to make the right choices for their families, whatever those choices may be! I started this website and blog in 2012 as a way to gather and share some of the information and resources that I wish I’d known about as a first-time mother. Navigating this new world of parenting is hard enough, even with lots of support. I wanted help others with the questions they had, from finding prenatal classes and birth photographers, to breastfeeding support and pelvic floor physio, and everything in between. I also wanted to give the the amazing, caring people who provide these services to help spread the word about how they can help parents.

In 2018, the time came for me to pass on this “labour of love” to someone who could devote more time to it that I could. I am happy it has found a new home with Ilissa!